Watching the Kavanaugh hearings was tough for Attorney IO founder Alexander Stern. Seeing a man essentially shout down senators, sexual assault victims, and Clinton supporters was difficult. It was more difficult to see he was elevated to one of the most powerful positions in the country.
So, he asked his legal AI what to do about it. The pair had previously been working on a concept called “Law by Choice,” which could be something like change.org that actually had real world impact. However, the spotlight on the Supreme Court showed that the judicial system (rather than e.g. the Congress) was particularly important to reevaluate.
A constellation of cases surfaced. The human/AI pair zeroed in on court decisions suggesting contracts and “arbitration” could be used to have millions of dissatisfied citizens opt out of Justice Kavanaugh’s rulings.
Arbitration is a private parallel universe of a judicial system. It allows you to replace government courts with private (yet legally binding) tribunals to handle civil matters. As people begin to question the Supreme Court’s perceived monopoly on ideal decision making, they might want to pivot to decision-makers more in line with their views.
This private justice system can also be the foundation for a private system of quasi-laws (basically, contracts with many people). For example, you could agree with millions of other people that if you are in a dispute with them and it involves a ruling from Justice Kavanaugh, that issue will go to an arbitrator instructed to disregard Kavanaugh’s vote.
The best part? These massive group contracts could be used for collective action and voluntary governance on a host of issues. What if millions of people agreed not to work for or invest in the biggest polluters? What if people agreed to pool a small portion of their future incomes to establish a universal basic income? All of this against the backdrop of private arbitrators holding people accountable if they break the rules.
Perhaps the polarization seen in western democracies could be solved by letting each side agree among themselves for exactly what they want. This wouldn’t replace government — obviously it would be better if everyone had to play by the same rules. However, it could add a layer on top of government that allowed people to channel desires for collective action into an actually meaningful decision along with people across the globe.
That is where Law by Choice comes in. Launching today, it is a new free service from Attorney IO that aims to be change.org on steroids. It is free, there are no ads, and we don’t sell your information.
However, the world needs something more than Internet “slacktivism,” or merely adding “likes” or signing online petitions. It also needs something more achievable for the average person than expecting to be able to influence an entire country.
Law by Choice can be that middle ground. It transforms a petition signature into a promise. This promise can be shared by millions of other people and make a huge difference in the world.
Worker’s unions are historically similar and very powerful. What are they but a group of people voluntarily agreeing to band together to achieve big change? The combination of the Internet, contract law, and arbitration law now empower people to take this concept and transplant it into almost every aspect of the political sphere.
Right now we support crowd contracts for opting out of Justice Kavanaugh’s decisions (and replacing his vote with an extra one for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg); environmental justice; and a universal basic income. We plan to offer the ability for people to add their own custom contracts very soon. Before that, we are happy to take suggestions.
We hope you enjoy Law by Choice and that it empowers you to “be the change you want to see in the world.”